Ryan Orlando Thompson was born November 4, 1967 in Chestertown, Maryland. The six foot three right hand hitting Thompson was originally drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 13th round of the 1987 draft. He was sent to the New York Mets as the player to be named later in the Jeff Kent for David Cone trade of 1992.
Thompson was a highly touted outfield prospect after hitting .282 with 14 HRs in 1992 at Toronto's AAA level.
He debuted at Shea Stadium on September 1st 1992 going 0-2 in a game against Atlanta. On September 22nd he hit his first career HR & drove in three runs in the Mets 9-7 win over the Chicago Cubs. On September 28th, Thompson hit a pair of HRs in the first game of a double header against the Philadelphia Phillies at Shea Stadium, although the Mets still lost 7-6. He closed out the month batting .222 with 3 HRs & 10 RBIs in 30 games.
In 1993 he began the year with the Mets but was only hitting .125 at the end of April. He was sent down to AAA Norfolk where he batted .259 hitting 12 HRs in 60 games. He returned to New York in late July. In his third game he hit a HR against the Florida Marlins & helped tie the game up in the bottom of the 9th with an RBI single off Bryan Harvey. He then scored the walk off winning run when Eddie Murray doubled to right field.
On August 27th he hit a three run HR against the Colorado Rockies driving in all three runs in the 3-2 win. On September 4th at Wrigley Field he hit two HRs & drove in three runs, then added another HR the next day driving in the only run in the 2-1 Mets loss. On the year he ended up hitting hit 11 HRs with a career high 19 doubles & 26 RBIs batting .250 in 80 games. There was hope for him becoming a regular outfielder with a bright future at Shea Stadium.
He was the Mets Opening Day centerfielder in 1994, batting eighth in the order, just ahead of Dwight Gooden. Thompson started off the season with a pair of hits & two RBIs in the Mets 12-8 win at Wrigley Field. From April 8th through the 14th he got hot, gathering up six hits with seven RBIs & three HRs. On May 14th he hit a grand slam HR off Atlanta’s John Smoltz, in the Mets 11-4 win over the Braves. He had a good month with five HRs & twenty RBIs although his average dropped off to .225.
He had a four RBI day at Pittsburgh then another in Colorado later on in June. In July he drove i runs in three straight games at the start of the month then drove in runs in four straight games toward the end of the month.
One of his biggest issues was staying healthy, Thompson kept getting injured and never lived up to the hype he was billed up to. His '94 season was over by mid August finishing up playing in just 98 games. He still showed some promise, posting career highs in games (98) HRs (18) & RBIs (59). He only hit .225 with one stolen base & a .301 on base%.
In 1995 his injury woes continued, as he spent time on the DL that summer playing in a total of only 75 games. He got into his first game on May 30th & drove in two runs with a base hit. In June he hit five HRs with 10 RBIs through June 20th batting over .300.
On August 24th he came to bat with the Mets down 4-2 in the bottom of the 9th inning. With two men on, Trecor Hoffman threw a wild pitch & then Thompson singled to tie the game. Chris Jones pinch hit for New York & singled home Thompson with the winning run. On the year he ended up batting .251, with 7 HRs 13 doubles 31 RBIs & a .306 on base % for the second place Mets.
In his four seasons with the Mets, Thomson played 283 games batting .239 with 39 HRs 53 doubles & 126 RBIs, while only stealing eight bases.
In Spring Training of 1996 he was traded along with Reid Cornelius to the Cleveland Indians for pitcher Mark Clark. He played only eight games at the big league level spending that season & the next in the minors.
In 1998 he Thompson played one season in Japan. In 1999 he returned to the big leagues, playing for the Houston Astros, then the AL New York team in 33 games in 2000. One moment that brought him some attention that season, is when he hit a line drive off the face of Red Sox pitcher Bryce Florie. In 2001 he made a brief stop in Florida playing 18 games for the Marlins & then 62 games for the Milwaukee Brewers the next year.
Thompson finished his nine season career with a .243 average 305 hits 52 HRs 52 doubles 176 RBIs & a .301 on base % in 416 career games. In the outfield he posted a career .986 fielding% with 14 assists in 393 games.
Trivia: Thompson must also be remembered for one of the classic Mets moustache's of all time. Very similar to the Jose Valentin and Kieth Hernandez styles.